Rufus Harley - Courage: The Atlantic Recordings
Courage: The Atlantic Recordings
- Release Date: 9/28/2006
- An individually numbered limited edition of 3000 Copies.
- 28 Tracks
- 1 Unreleased
- 2 Disc
Rufus Harley was a saxophone player. That is, until he had an epiphany while watching the bagpipers of the Black Watch of the Royal Highlanders Regiment lead JFK's November 1963 funeral procession from the White House to St. Matthew's Cathedral. This was the sound he was hearing in his head but unable to realize on the sax.
Noted producer Joel Dorn discovered Harley and brought him to Atlantic Records, and to this day credits the success of the bagpiper's debut album, Bagpipe Blues, as the reason Nesuhi Ertegun invited him to become a full-time producer at the label. Dorn recorded both Bagpipe Blues and Scotch & Soul, in 1966, A Tribute To Courage in 1967, and King/Queens in 1970, before Harley parted with Atlantic.
Interestingly, all the facets of the bagpipes' sound appear on these four Atlantic albums: chanter alone, drones alone, and full bore with chanter screaming and drones wailing.
As Dorn remembers in the liner notes to this release, “Any time back then when you did something that was slightly different, the regular jazz community looked at it as if it was gimmicky, or vaudeville-like. People looked at it as an oddity or a one-off.”
Harley's fellow musicians, however, saw it differently. John Coltrane once called Harley in the middle of the night and asked for lessons on the pipes, a set of which he'd recently acquired. And in 1974, after his stint at Atlantic, Harley got to play with his idol, Sonny Rollins. “He told me to play whole notes, way before I came to the bagpipes, and he told me to sustain them,” Harley says of Rollins' massive influence.
Courage producer Daniel Goldmark says it best in the liner notes: “Every time someone asks if bagpipe jazz is really jazz, they've only confirmed that Rufus Harley was essential to the redefinition of jazz that occurred in the 1960s.”
Courage contains the Atlantic albums Bagpipe Blues, Scotch & Soul, A Tribute To Courage, and King/Queens in their entirety, plus the previously unreleased “Where Have All The Flowers Gone?” and “Pipin' The Blues” from Sonny Stitt's Deuces Wild.